Australian seaweed extract inhibits H1N1 flu virus

10 May 2010

Australian biotechnology company Marinova has isolated a natural extract from seaweed which has been shown to inhibit the H1N1 virus.

The extract, known as Maritech 926, is a fucoidan compound derived from the Undaria pinnatifida species of seaweed. In vitro tests performed under contract by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US, have shown that the extract can inhibit the H1N1 influenza virus at extremely low concentrations.

Developed by biotechnology company Marinova Pty Ltd, it is a natural polysaccharide that the company believes has immediate market potential in nutritional supplements, hand washes and nasal delivery products that target the spread and prevention of viral conditions.

Scope also exists for the compound to be included in pharmaceutical and medical device applications. As a result of these findings, Marinova has filed for patent protection over the application of this extract and other fucoidan extracts in a range of anti-viral applications.

 Marinova's Senior Scientist, Dr Helen Fitton, said: "Fucoidan extracts such as Maritech 926 are known to have significant inhibitory effects on a range of coated viruses. We are particularly excited by the fact that these seaweed extracts have now been shown to have an inhibitory effect on H1N1 at extremely low concentrations. With H1N1 already becoming resistant to some other antiviral agents, we believe that Maritech 926 offers a potent, natural alternative which supports the immune system against viral attacks".

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